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I've been an educator since 1995 where I've served as both a teacher and administrator. I believe that serving others is the key to success and make it my goal to be a servant leader for students, teachers, parents, and the community. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

What are you reading?

We've all heard the adage, "Readers are leaders."  While I agree with this in principle, I know it is not always true.  Many avid readers are not necessarily leaders. However, I have found very few strong leaders, especially in education, who are not readers.  So, I would propose changing this to: "Leaders are readers."

With that in mind, I'm always looking to see what other leaders are reading.  So, what are YOU reading?  Please add your list to the comments and let's share the knowledge.

Below is I'm currently reading and why.  

1) What Great Principals Do Differently - Todd Whitaker (@toddwhitaker)  

    I bought this book at the TASSP conference and started it that evening.  Right now, I'm about halfway through.  I also got the opportunity to hear Todd Whitaker speak on Thursday.  As a new administrator, I look forward to gain wisdom from those who've been there already.  Who better than Todd Whitaker to learn from.

2) Dealing with Difficult Teachers - Todd Whitaker.

    This was Todd Whitaker's first book and, while it is several years old, it contains great strategies for dealing with those difficult members of the school staff.  Learning lots to apply in Year 2 of my admin journey.

3) The Fundamental Five - Sean Cain (@lysnation) and Mike Laird.

    As a campus, we are implementing the Fundamental Five next year so I am rereading it in preparation for leading this initiative.

4) Wonder - R. J. Palacio

       This is a YA fiction book I'm reading because I was asked to facilitate a kids book club this summer at our public library.  Wonder(ful) read that can help kids realize the importance of judging someone from the heart rather than the outside appearance. Looking forward to discussing with the group.

1) Educational Leadership

      This is the journal of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (@ASCD).  A must read for any educator, whether supervisor or not. The last issue was on Professional Learning Revisited.  Loved the article about edcamps. 

 1) Twitter - I am on Twitter probably more than I need to be.  I regularly following links shared by others and grow professionally because of this practice. I also share links with others as I seek to add to the professional community.

2) Zite is an app that creates a personalized online journal for its users. I regularly skim through my Zite pages to gather useful articles, blogs posts, etc which I then either post on Twitter or save to Pocket.

3) paper.li is site the allows you to create an online newspaper based on your areas of interest.  The only real work involved is in setting it up. After that, it populates itself every 24 hours. Others can also subscribe to your paper.  My paper.li page is called "Mr. Q's Daily News."  Every day, I look forward to the new learning I gain from the multiple education, tech, and leadership articles I find there.  You can also follow other people paper.li creations
4) Blogs - I love to read blogs for the variety of ideas that are presented.  A great place to find educational blogs is cybraryman.com by Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman).  

That's my list.  It may look like a lot, but since I do most of my reading in the morning before work and at night before retiring, it doesn't take too much time.  My goal is a chapter a day, plus at least three articles/blogs.

So, once again, what are YOU reading?  I look forward to seeing your list in the comments below.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Gentle Answer

"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger."  Proverbs 15:1 (The Bible)

Communication matters.  The words you use, your tone of voice, even your posture makes a difference in how the message is received.  When someone comes to you agitated or angry, it is possible to alleviate that anger by speaking respectfully to the person and listening to their response.  King Solomon put it this way, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." 

Every day, I have children and adults come into my office angry or agitated.  I have a choice in this situation.  I can join in their anger and lash out at them or I can choose to listen and then answer them calmly and respectfully. This doesn't mean that I agree with them or that I'm not going to honor their requests.  It also doesn't mean that I'm going to withhold disciplinary action.  It does mean that I am going to answer them with dignity and respect.  In doing so, there is a greater chance that the person will leave my office calmer than when they entered, even if they did not get what they wanted.  

The flip side of this is also true.  It is possible to throw fuel on the fires of anger by our response.  If someone is angry and we respond in kind, it only exacerbates the situation.  Both parties end up in worse shape than when the situation started.  This afternoon, I watched from a distance as an adult, already agitated, was reprimanding a child about their behavior.  The child stood there angrily and then went and sat down.  A few moments later, the same adult approached this child again, stirring up an already tense situation.  In the end, both of them were angry, neither got what they wanted, and I had to step in to try and calm things down. 

I'm not proud of this, but I have been guilty of using harsh words in many situations.  In fact, this seems to be the path of least resistance.  Answering gently, on the other hand, takes practice and a concerted effort.

As educators, we have to remember that we work with children, most of whom still do not have full control of their emotions.  We also have to remember that we are the adults.  These children are looking to us to teach them how to act and respond in various situations.  Some may not have positive role models at home to give them this guidance.  The way we talk to others, both children and adults, is leaving an impression.  We get to choose whether we will use a gentle answer to help calm a tense situation or a harsh word to make it even worse.  Which choice will you make?

Please see Gentle vs Harsh a ShowMe lesson I created on this concept.  Please forgive the simplicity.  It is my first effort on ShowMe.